Messi says I'm tired of being blamed for everything at Barcelona


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup 2022 South American Qualifiers - Peru v Argentina - Estadio Nacional, Lima, Peru - November 17, 2020 Argentina's Lionel Messi Ernesto Benavides/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) - A frustrated Lionel Messi said he is tired of being blamed for problems at Barcelona after he was accused by Antoine Griezmann's former agent of making life difficult for the French striker at the La Liga club.

Eric Olhats had accused Messi of having too much control at the club, saying his "reign of terror" had made life difficult for Griezmann to adapt since his arrival last year.

Messi returned to Barcelona from international duty with Argentina on Wednesday when he was accosted by reporters at the airport.

"The truth is that I'm a little tired of always being the problem for everything at the club," Messi was quoted as saying by Spanish media.

"On top of that, after a 15-hour flight, I had the tax authorities waiting for me. It's madness."

With one year left on his contract, Messi tried to activate a disputed clause to leave Barcelona for free in the off-season, but eventually decided to stay as he did not want to face a legal battle with the club.

Barcelona have been in turmoil since Bayern Munich humiliated the Spanish side 8-2 in the Champions League quarter-finals last season. Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned last month ahead of a vote of no confidence.

Messi has also had his run-ins with the Spanish tax authorities in recent years.

He was handed a 21-month prison sentence in 2016 and ordered to pay a fine of two million euros ($2.37 million) for defrauding the Spanish government of 4.2 million euros over income earned from image rights.

However, the 33-year-old did not serve any jail time after exchanging his sentence for a 250,000 euros fine, as in Spain defendants without a previous conviction are permitted to serve any sentence of under two years on probation.

($1 = 0.8442 euros)

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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